Lions soccer coach heads to the Beijing Olympics

York Lions master soccer coach and women’s head coach Paul James will work as a scout for the Canadian national women’s soccer team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics from Aug. 8 to 24. Canada opens play at the Olympics Aug. 6 against Argentina.

It will be the second international assignment this summer for James, who was an assistant coach for the gold-medal winning Canadian team which played at the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) under-20 women’s championship June 17-24, in Mexico.

Right: Paul James is heading off to Beijing

"It will be a great experience," said James, who heads to Beijing, China on Aug. 1. "It also will help our York program gain more credibility."

Canadian head coach Even Pellerud offered James the job last month. James will be with the Canadian team in training before heading off to do some advance scouting.

"It shows that the Canadian team is being very thorough and meticulous," James said. "It will allow me to spend a bit of time with the Canadian team, to learn about their players and their strengths and weaknesses before seeing some of the other teams."

James played for Canada at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, helping the national team advance to the quarter-finals before losing to Brazil in penalty kicks. James also played for Canada at the 1986 World Cup before going into coaching.

He coached the Canadian under-20 men’s team at the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup before becoming the head coach of the York Lions men’s and women’s teams in 2004. He has led the women’s team to three consecutive appearances in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championship tournament, including a second-place finish this past season when James was named national university coach of the year.

James will travel to Chile with the CONCACAF under-20 women’s team at the conclusion of the CIS season in November. The Lions open the 2008 campaign on Sept. 6, with a 3:15pm match against the Guelph Gryphons at York Stadium.